H. Ballard Harris, 82, a volunteer who has provided weather information to the National Weather Service for more than 37 years, has been honored by Salt Lake and Grand Junction, Colo., forecast offices of the federal agency.
A resident of Dewey, a small Grand County community along the Colorado River near Moab, Harris was presented the John Campanius Holm Award.Presented by William J. Alder, meteorologist in charge of the Salt Lake office, the award is named after a Lutheran minister who was the first person known to have systematically taken weather observations in the American colonies in 1644 and 1645. Only 25 of the awards are given nationwide each year.
Harris began providing weather observation data to the Weather Service from his home in Cisco, also Grand County, in November 1959. He provided the service until September 1967 when he and his wife, Maxine, moved to Dewey. Federally owned weather station equipment moved with them.
Assisted at times by his wife, Harris has provided a nearly continuous weather record for the past 29 years at Dewey. His data has enabled the Weather Service to provide normal high and low temperatures for every day of the year. The information is available for not only the Dewey and Cisco area but for the surrounding region, said Steven K. Summy, who oversees the collection of data at the Salt Lake forecast office.
The Weather Service relies on the service of Harris and nearly 10,000 other volunteer weather observers across the country for climate information. Because of the work of these volunteers, a variety of information, including normal high and low temperatures, record high and low temperatures, frost-free dates and rainfall and snowfall totals, is available to all citizens, Summy said.
Summy said Harris is not only a volunteer for the Weather Service but for the U.S. Geological Survey. Each day he crosses the Colorado River to read a gauge that measures the height and flow of the river. Harris also periodically takes a sample of the water and reports the data to the USGS.